A MUM who scrounged almost £100,000 in benefits to splurge on lavish holidays escaped jail as a judge said her four kids would "suffer".

Claire Finney, 41, falsely claimed she was a single mum so she could claim extra child tax credits, universal credit, housing benefit and income support.

But the mum was actually living with long-time partner Joseph Perry during her five-year deception.

She used the £97,028.24 of taxpayer cash to enjoy five-star, luxury holidays with her family in Cyprus.

Finney faced three years in jail after she admitted giving false information to the Department of Work and Pensions and Salford City Council between April 2014 and July 2019.

But she was instead handed a 12 month sentence suspended for two years after telling Manchester Crown Court her four children were "very vulnerable".

The mum, from Eccles, will now pay back the money she pilfered at £11.77 a month – meaning it would take 686 years to wipe the debt.

Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Dean QC told her: ''You are paying back what you owe but the reality is you will never be able to pay back the near £100,000 you were overpaid.

"However there are a number of factors that make it appropriate to suspend this sentence and they are primarily your own personal frailties and the effect that sending you to prison would have on your own children.

''They are all quite young, two are particularly vulnerable. You would be in prison and they would be deprived of your care, they would suffer but whereas you really wouldn’t. Sending you immediately to prison is going to be immensely problematic for your children."

The court was told Finney claimed she was living alone and employed when her home was actually owned by her partner.

After a housing benefit claim was refused, the crook described Mr Perry as the "grandfather of her children" to dupe the government.

Every year, Finney listed herself as a single parent while her partner supported her and the family.

But prosecutor Eleanor Gleeson said: "Throughout the period in question, the defendant’s benefit award was based on her repeated assertion that she was a single parent, including support for nursery payments.

''In reality, she continued to live with Joseph Perry as a common household. She, Mr Perry and her children had holidays at 5-star resorts in Cyprus."

Finney's lies unravelled when an anonymous tip off was made to investigators and she confessed.

As well as a suspended sentence, Finney was also ordered to complete 180 hours unpaid work, 20 Rehabilitation Requirement Days and attend a 'Problem solving court.'

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